- Solute transporting epithelial cells build arrays of microvilli on their apical surface to increase membrane scaffolding capacity and enhance function potential. In epithelial tissues such as the kidney and gut, microvilli are length-matched and assembled into tightly packed “brush borders,” which are organized by ∼50-nm thread-like links that form between the distal tips of adjacent protrusions. Composed of protocadherins CDHR2 and CDHR5, adhesion links are stabilized at the tips by a cytoplasmic tripartite module containing the scaffolds USH1C and ANKS4B and the actin-based motor MYO7B.
- Nutrient-transporting enterocytes interact with their luminal environment using a densely packed collection of apical microvilli known as the brush border. Assembly of the brush border is controlled by the intermicrovillar adhesion complex (IMAC), a protocadherin-based complex found at the tips of brush border microvilli that mediates adhesion between neighboring protrusions. ANKS4B is known to be an essential scaffold within the IMAC, although its functional properties have not been thoroughly characterized.
- Specialized transporting and sensory epithelial cells employ homologous protocadherin-based adhesion complexes to remodel their apical membrane protrusions into organized functional arrays. Within the intestine, the nutrient-transporting enterocytes utilize the intermicrovillar adhesion complex (IMAC) to assemble their apical microvilli into an ordered brush border. The IMAC bears remarkable homology to the Usher complex, whose disruption results in the sensory disorder type 1 Usher syndrome (USH1).